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vintage fernleaf coat

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In 1985, I also made a little coat in fernleaf stitch

Made (by me when I was living) in Italy involved a considerable amount of rather lovely knitting. I think I knew that. When I dragged out my old photo albums to check, I was surprised by the amount of work I’d put in! I couldn’t manage it now because I would rarely – read, nobody would let me – have that much uninterrupted time.

Back then, several things helped: considerable amounts of youthful enthusiasm, it being winter, having uninterrupted weekends while Dr B was away at masterclasses on the other side of the country, fewer interruptions from him when he was home because he was studying, and generally being so impecunious that staying home was a good option. And if you stay home and there are babies on the way, well, you knit. Right? I did.

I purchased the blue yarn that I used for the angel top locally in the village, and the ribbon, but the white yarn had travelled in a tea-chest from Australia. I’d bought it to knit a hap for a friend’s baby a couple of years earlier. If you’re like me, and it’s the time of your life when many around you are having babies, you stock up. I had done just that. I’d bought the whole pack, not merely what was required for the knitting immediately in question. Buying the white yarn wasn’t something I had to do in Italy.

You might wonder why I chose blue ribbon. I’d looked for white at the local shop. My memory is that they either didn’t have any, or didn’t have enough. In the expectation that any child likely to have red hair would look good with blue ribbons, I’d opted for that as less offensive than pink. I think the fernleaf coat and the christening gown I also knitted – using a different pattern – still have the blue ribbons, but it would be a small matter to change them for white.

Details? Goodness! A good knitter keeps patterns as well as yarn, so I’ve run off to the other end of the house and checked:

  • Pattern: coat of the Outfit in Fernleaf Stitch, Australian Home Journal Baby Knitting Book Number 1 (third printing; no year of publication).
  • Yarn: pattern calls for 3-ply baby yarn, so I expect that’s what I used; but I couldn’t say where I actually bought it or what brand it was.
  • Needles: pattern calls for 3.25mm, so I expect that’s what I used.
  • Sleeve seam of coat: 12cm.

Curiosity details: I’ve used a couple of musician’s tricks, such as writing bits of the next and/or previous page pattern at the bottom/top obviously to give myself a heads-up to help avoid errors and unpicking. Dr B has also scribbled some notation on the blank portion of one page. I have no idea what that was about!

The things you find when the next generation comes along 😀

 

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Made in Italy

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Made and photographed at our kitchen table, many years ago

You’d probably agree that it’s a cheerful thing to receive family photos. It’s especially cheerful for me as a knitter when they’re showcasing handknits. What is more, the photo that arrived at lunchtime showcased a handknit Made (by me when I was living) in Italy. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes! But, sure enough, that little, blue angel top is still going strong these many years later. The ribbons didn’t survive all the washing that four children entailed, or perhaps it was a nuisance. But the rest of it is in practically mint condition and still helping to keep a baby warm.

Details:

  • Sirdar pattern 3285
  • Yarn: 4-ply Snuggly Baby Yarn (and that is most likely what I bought when I first used the pattern to knit for a friend in New Zealand). For the pictured top, I would have used whatever baby yarn I was able to purchase from the local shop. Plainly, it was a quality one!
  • Needles: The pattern calls for 3.25 mm needles, which I expect I used.

May all your long-ago handknits come back to haunt you so beautifully 🙂

 

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but I have been doing stuff

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Since this photo, I’ve begun shaping the crown.

I don’t want you to think that I’ve stopped knitting. I haven’t. True, I have been busy crocheting my table runner while watching TV. But I have also been knitting, sometimes while watching TV and sometimes while battling insomnia. Neither is particularly wise when you have trouble counting.

I have also been dedicating time to the 3-Legged Challenge, a world-first fundraiser whose aim is to support unpaid carers. As I work for one of the charities involved, my signing up was a no-brainer. I cajoled YoungB into participating, which has, I think, well and truly exhausted my annual quota of filial goodwill from him! Never mind.

Yesterday, he and I did a truncated version of our original idea. Between travel to and fro, a special soccer match and his work commitments, we were never going to get as much 3-legged silliness as we’d originally planned. This photo of him being not too rude to me is the best I could have expected.

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“I will kill you later, Mum.”

Today, Dr B and I joined a group of staff in a 2-Km walk along part of the Hallett Cove boardwalk. We were promised no steps in the out-and-back loop. Yes, well, not quite true! But only half a dozen or so either way, and we managed those reasonably well. Let me put it this way: nobody fell over, or down, or caused anybody else to do either of those things. Win-win. Right? Lots of laughs and, no doubt, some excellent photos from our fundraising and marketing manager in due course.

The nice thing about travelling from our north-eastern suburb to the suburban far south was the amount of knitting time it afforded me. My beanie has now reached the stage where the rows are noticeably shorter and the end in sight.

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I am not enamoured of the brown. But it works with the rest of the colours and it’s not yellow, so it’s staying 😉

I’m on schedule to finish the beanie by the knitting store’s CAL/KAL deadline. Let’s hope I haven’t just hexed myself!

What have you been up to?

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2019 in Knitting, Travel

 

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this old thing?

Today we’re experiencing chilly, wintry weather. It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s “sit in front of the fire with a hot chocolate and a good book” time. Oh, and, you know, bring out your warmest woollies. In my case that would be my very old, cabled, red jumper; the one I knitted in 1984 prior to departing for the northern hemisphere. There I wore it solidly from almost the day I arrived till the day I departed. It certainly features in many photos from those years, including this one among the ruins near Nonno’s village.

1984-11-25 Roviano Lazio Italy

YoungB looked at me wearing it today – yes, it’s somewhat tighter nowadays, in case you were wondering 😉 – commented on how warm I looked, and asked was I knitting anything for him! Uuh, yeah, about that. I reminded him that he’d changed his mind about the cabled jumper I’d planned to knit for him and then been unable to decide on anything else. Also, cables? In those days they weren’t his favourite adornment. He’s lived in a truly cold climate since then and has come to appreciate cables as providing visual interest as well as extra warmth.

Also, he reminded me, I’m mending his fingerless mitts. He loves them and has worn them so much that he’s gone through the palm of one. I often say he’s knitworthy  and worth the food. How could I resist making something for someone who’s so wholeheartedly appreciative?!

If you’re in a cool part of the world, I hope you’re managing to keep warm, whether by sitting in front of the fire or from wearing something lovingly handknitted.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2018 in Knitting, Travel

 

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and is it really nearly midwinter already?

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Recent flurry of floral activity in the garden

I think we all know the answer to that.

Knitting progress? Not quit nil, but very slow. Crochet progress? Minus – that is to say, I’ve had to unpick the little I’ve managed. Sewing? Nil. Surviving? Yep, we’re managing that in the face of some serious setbacks. We might not be the creators we once were – I couldn’t tell you how long it is since any of us was involved in a live performance – but I think we could safely claim that we are survivors.

It hasn’t all been horrible. YoungB graduated. Yeah!! That’s not his afternoon ceremony, but one from the following morning. I thought you might like a glimpse of the lovely (nowhere near as old as you might think) hall in which Adelaide University graduations take place (as did Youngest Aunt’s in the late 1970s and Dr B’s in the early 1980s). Eldest Aunt (who graduated interstate) and Youngest Aunt attended the ceremony too, so we made plenty of noise when YoungB’s name was only slightly mispronounced – the small matter of a gender change with his middle name! – and he was presented with his two testamurs.

We had some time to kill between the end of the ceremony and our dinner booking. So we dodged downpours to consume coffee at the nearby Art Gallery cafe, then tramped up side streets to a trendy, inner-city bar with wondrous heating, for more refreshments. Youngest Uncle joined us at the celebratory dinner here, where our attentive waiter plied us with some spectacular wines. It was a long and tiring day, but a most worthwhile celebration. Well done, YoungB. That was a long half-decade, but you did it.

But it is true that matters medical, matters of family history, matters of world uproar and domestic repercussions, matters of friends and some of their woes have all tried to tip us off the planet this year. All the same, here we are. And in a delightful twist, a visiting cousin’s recent – joking – insistence on needing a splayd to eat his slice of orange-and-almond cake was met with provision of the requisite implement; a set of which had been a wedding gift from his parents. Impressive stuff. Right? Dr B was actually more impressed by the fact that I knew precisely where to go to locate the splayds. Plainly, there’s a great deal of chaos but it hasn’t yet overwhelmed us.

May your world still be wobbling on the usual orbit, and remember that fingernails don’t have to be talons to enable you to hang on. 😉

 

 

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lots of TV, perhaps?

tv-watching shawl

The amount of progress suggests entirely too much time spent either watching TV or accompanying Dr B while he watches it 😉

It’s a bit blurry, but there’s progress. Nothing exciting at all!

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2018 in Knitting

 

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getting another run

Wedding bunting

A bit wrinkled after more than two years in storage, but still looking fabulously festive 🙂

Middle Niece was married on Friday. The reception was held at her parents’ house, under a marquee on the back lawn. Among the decorations? The photo is a little blurry – phone cameras have their limitations, after all – but I’m sure you’ll get the general idea. It was lovely to see the made-by-me bunting adorning another celebration. This space was smaller than the previous one, with a steeper ceiling pitch, so the bunting appeared much denser and it certainly draped differently.

On the subject of matters crafty, I’m still knitting the scrappy scarf or shawl. It’s making progress. I’ve decided to embrace the knot. There seem to be many in the yarn I’m using and there’s a limit to my patience for dealing with them. My theory is that you’d be hard pushed to notice the occasional bump when the scarf is tucked under a coat collar, as is likely to be its final destination.

Also, I’ve booked to attend a beginners’ weaving course. It’s being held near the town where I grew up, so Dr B and YoungB will cycle the Riesling Trail (more info) while I learn all about looms, weft and warp and other wondrous new terms.

Whatever you’ve been doing, I hope your plans are all turning out exactly as you’d expected. Mine never do; but I hope yours are!

 

 

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excavations

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Well, you know, it keeps me off the streets!

That excavator seems to be still waving its bucket around, but at least we now have some happier, sillier things for it to excavate, in among the health issues and potential surgery. The potential surgery would be for Dr B, much as we’d like to avoid it. But if it’s necessary, then he’ll have it done and I’ll take some time off work to soothe his fevered brow while he recovers.

The happier excavations include the forthcoming family wedding and all the usual, “OMG, what AM I going to do for a decent dress?” dilemmas. But even more than that, as Middle Aunt and I agreed when we were discussing wedding attire, there’s the all-but-insoluble dilemma around the availability of shoes that don’t hurt but look acceptable. Yeah, not thick on the ground. On the other hand, we agreed it’s not world-shattering if you end up with something less elegant than you’d hoped for if it means you can walk. Priorities. Right?

She and I have both recently had optometry appointments and are eagerly awaiting our new specs. I haven’t had new specs for six years. That’s pretty good going. When I was picking out which of the multifocals I wanted, the girl who was explaining their various attractions started to talk about how one version is easy to scratch. But then, she pointed out with a bit of a laugh, I plainly don’t scratch my glasses. No. They’re either on my face or waiting to be put on my face, so the likelihood of their getting scratched is remote. Not beyond possible, but extremely improbable. It would, I suggest, be the result of a significant accident; in which case, scratched glasses might be the  least of anybody’s worries.

YoungB submitted his last ever essay (for a while, anyway. Nobody would ever suggest he might not return to study at some point in the future). We had a group hug to celebrate that, but agreed that the champagne can wait until graduation day. We also agreed it has been a long five years. But, you know, here we are and there he is and now let’s try to find a silver lining in the Centrelink queue when he rocks up there on Monday!!! (That would be our dole office equivalent, if you think I’m talking gibberish.)

And the simple shawl that I’m knitting? Yes, that’s making progress, too. It’s keeping me out of mischief while Dr B watched telly and that’s all it needs to do. 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2018 in Health, Knitting, Musing

 

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then, before you can say Jack Robinson…

…or knife, or whatever your favourite similar expression might be, it’s February! OK, there are two days remaining in January, to be technical and pedantic. But they’ll be gone before – see above.

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This year already feels a bit as if that excavator has had a go at it! Photo taken late last century. Dr B on the left wearing that wondrous jumper I knitted for him 🙂

Life has been hectic and full of small and not-so-small sideswipes that seem hideously unfair in many instances but totally expected (in a bigger picture way) in others. Nonetheless, you can’t help muttering with a fair degree of frequency, “Things can only get better.”

You mutter that particularly frequently with regard to technology but, you know? So far, not so much. It’s nicknamed “Cayman Mal’s Fraudband” for good reason.

Yeah, it seems that 2018 is already shaping up to be another of those years.

That’s not to imply that we didn’t have an enjoyable festive break. It’s also not to imply that I’ve actually taken down the Christmas cards. We’ve had a hot week, then today is so cool that I’m reaching for a cardigan and thinking that summer is over. It’s not. We’ll have more hot weather, but the mornings are starting to draw in; something we’d notice even more were YoungB still rowing. We miss that for all sorts of reasons but the early mornings don’t feature among them!

I have a couple of sewing projects that I should be turning my mind to – that new summer nightie that I wrote about ages ago? Yeah, I never did get around to doing that! – and there are always rescue missions on old and well-loved garments. The trouble mostly is that they are, in fact, old. Then the question becomes, how many times can you mend a jacket? And even if you can, should you?

I have one RTW jacket that was in time-out towards the end of last year because I’d had enough of mending it. After 20-plus years of hard work, it owed me nothing. But it’s a good cut, the best in-between weight jacket I own, and I needed it for work. So I mended it. Again. Ideally, I should unpick it and use it as a template. I’m not sure I have the space for that, but it appeals to me as a good option for ending up with a jacket that I can wear for much of the year. And I could spice it up by lining it with guitar-playing skeletons, couldn’t I? (I have some fabric like that in my stash, honest.)

Then there’s the, “I feel a mitten-knitting orgy coming on” urge that often hits at this time of year (as ridiculous as that sounds when the mere thought of woollen yarn makes hands sweat). The attraction of the idea is that there’s still some daylight when I get home after work, so I’m much more likely to be able to see what I’m doing. That improves my chances of completing things, particularly darker items. So if I start now, whether on something new or one of the many WIPs, I might have something ready to go when those winter birthdays roll around.

Also, I need some crochet to work on while I’m watching TV. I don’t watch TV often but, when I do, I find it difficult to just sit there. I make too many mistakes if I try to knit at the same time but I can manage simple crochet. So I’m off to dig up another lot of stash yarn to do a knee rug to take to work. Oh, wait, didn’t I say that once before?! I promise to stop earlier with this one; or make separate granny squares so that it’s a better commuter project.

Whatever the status of your year, I hope it’s providing you with plenty of crafting opportunities.

 

 

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another big one

I was musing the other day that this is 2017. It’s 100 years since my mother was born. In my family, we like to celebrate these big occasions. Dr B and I are often the ones who prepare the presentations.

That means I have to get busy with scanning photos, calling for scans and/or copies of photos from cousins and other family members – I can’t think of any friends who are still alive – and getting down and dirty with some sort of large format word processing and/or database to produce a timeline for display. See, that’s a couple of knitting projects worth of time already lost to a better cause, although any genuine coverage of my Mum’s life will include many handknitted articles so there’s still that connecting thread.

Still can’t get photos to work properly, so will wish you all the best with your big occasions, too 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2017 in Family history

 

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